ANCHORAGE -- Alaska was a popular place last year: Compared with 2003, attendance was up at the states national parks, and Anchorage, Alaskas largest city, drew more overnight guests.

Just under 2.3 million people paid a visit to one of the states 16 parks, according to the National Park Service.

More than 843,000 people visited the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, making it the most popular national park in Alaska. The park commemorates Skagways 19th-century gold-rush boom and features the Chilkoot Trail, the route that gold prospectors used to get to Dawson in the Yukon Territory.

Denali National Park and Preserve and Glacier Bay National Park were the second- and third-most popular parks in Alaska last year.

Sitka National Historical Park and Kenai Fjords National Park rounded out the top five.

The least visited park in Alaska was the Aniakchak National Monument, which is on the western side of the state in an area known for cloudy and stormy weather.

The preserve has no accessible trails -- visitors can take a float plane or powerboat -- and there are no formal trails within the park. The centerpiece is a six-mile-wide, 2,000-foot-deep caldera, formed by the collapse of a mountain. Only 154 people visited that park in 2004.

Anchorage grew in popularity last year: A recovering economy and several large conventions contributed to a spike in Anchorages hotel occupancy in 2004.

Occupancy in Anchorage hotels was up 3.6%, and room revenue rose by more than 4%, according to the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Airport arrivals, cruise ship passengers and car rental revenues all were up 9% during the destinations high season, which runs between May and September.

To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].

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